So, I ventured out in the World of Warcraft after quite a bit of pressure from a friend. Downloaded the 10-day trial and fired it up. Works just fine.
I created my first character to look a bit like me. Too much like me, really. Short legs, gray, rotund and highly ineffectual with a weapon. Damn, did I get whipped. Spent most of my time running out of graveyards looking for my dead body, which was always inconveniently far away. I did get a lot of excercise that way, but it seemed to have no influence on my rotundness, either in the game or IRL. The rest of the time I spent being confused. No weapons seemed to fit this character and even the really cool twirling gesture I had in the beginning somehow went limp and dead after a while, and I could never figure out why I didn’t have that thing anymore. Or why I had it before. So, not only was I a loser, I was a bewildered loser. A couple of times I mistakenly agreed to duels with other characters, which never took more than a few milliseconds, leaving me running from that old graveyard again. I half expected the angel to smack her forehead and exlaim “No, not you again… but she never did.
I soon learned to always decline all kinds of invitations and not to speak to strangers. Somehow, during all this suffering, I did manage to get to level 10, even though it didn’t seem to do me much good. I still got clobbered by anything larger than a rabbit. I could still whack chickens, but that’s only briefly satisfying for us non-psychopaths.
So, I left this ridiculous little doppelgÃ¤nger out somewhere in the woods and created a new character, about four times as tall, looking not a bit like me, but with a little more style and character. Ran around a church or abbey for a while, murdering woodland critters to my heart’s content and actually collecting some imaginary money along the way. This guy had a lot more success than the first character, which only goes to show that if you’re a man, you should be tall and have a flat belly. Everything goes better for you.
This time, I didn’t accept any duel invitations. Actually, I only got one, which I promptly declined. I guess my more imposing persona seemed less of an easy target, even though the game engine really doesn’t care how you look, you’re dead just as quickly, anyway. It’s not like it’s a presidential election or anything. I also got only two invitations to join groups. I guess you have to select a female character to get a lot of those. Not that I want to be in groups, I’m not a team player. Interestingly, I fought along other guys a couple of times, without any kind of conversation. That’s the style I like. No talk, just action. Then just go away.
With this character, everything went better. Enemies actually died after a while. I got a handle on the spells, the firethrowing, the freezing of enemies. I could even turn them into sheep just by waving my virtual hands around.
I spent a weekend running errands for people (quests, they call them), sneaking up on unsuspecting troll-jawed minicles and young winter igloo beers, or whatever. I’m sure I’m getting the names wrong. I’ve been stealing bandannas, copper coins, emptying other people’s magic chests, but most of all I’ve been, you guessed it, running from graveyards looking for myself. The difference being that this guy has longer legs, and I’ve chosen to die closer to the nearest graveyard most of the times. If real life was that simple.
But mostly, I’ve been skinning corpses left by others, and beating the crap out of cows, deer, and the occasional boar. That’s me. Go for the small stuff, but it does add up when you sell the skins. I got to level 10 with this one as well. And I’m a pretty good skinner by now.
Will I buy this game? No. And there are several reasons.
I would buy it if they sold it to me online. Actually, I can’t understand why they don’t. I already have the game, since I downloaded the 3 Gb trial file, which is almost a DVD. I’m sure the shelf unit contains the same thing. But Blizzard won’t sell me a license online, they expect me to drive into town to find a store that has it in stock. Or find a seller on the net and have it shipped. Why? I’m perfectly ok with paying the full price over the net and getting just a license code.
I would just maybe get a subscription if it cost the same over here as in the USA. Paying 50% more just because we’re in Europe is a slap in the face. I don’t mind the price itself, I mind the price difference.
Finally, the subscription is on a monthly basis. I’d love to play this game every now and then, but a monthly fee stresses me into playing too much. I’d really like a model similar to Skype’s outdial service, where you pay for use in advance. If Blizzard would let me buy 50 hours online gameplay for $25, for instance, and they’d let me use it over six months, I’d do it.
I’ll wait until Blizzard changes their terms, or until the next competitor comes along with something that suits me better.
Correction: a friend showed me that you can, in fact, buy WoW online. It’s hidden, like most treasures in WoW. Go to “manage your account” and in there somewhere, you can buy a key online for 19.95 euros.